Funchal was not originally the Capital of Madeira, Machico was the founding city on the east coast, but due to its strategic and accessible bay, and of course a powerful Captain, Funchal became the capital city in the 16th Century. Funchal is a unique place, with an amphitheatre shaped bay and where two thirds of Madeiras’ population lives today. There are approximately 280,000 people who live on the island in total.

Forte São Tiago

For a taste of bygone days, why not visit Forte São Tiago. This 15th Century Fort hosts a Contemporary Art Museum and Military Room showing the history of the evolution of the fortress and its strategic importance to Funchal. The architecture itself is fabulous; you can stand in its turrets and feel how the soldiers would protect the city. The fortress also hosts the one of best up market restaurants in Funchal. While visiting, book yourself a table for dinner and you won't be disappointed.

Funchal Marina

Funchal Marina is small in comparison to other European harbours, but has the most gentle and rustic charm. There are many restaurants that have been open for several years, where one can sit, relax and watch the fishing boats and luxury yachts pass in and out of the harbour. The Timeshare industry is very prominent on the island and the Marina is a popular area in which to tout the trade. Surveys and free gifts are offered to entice tourists into the resorts to encourage more sales in the business. Down at the Marina there are lots of operators and stands where you can purchase various trips from dolphin watching to deep sea fishing.

Chapel of Santa Maria

This Chapel is located in the old town of Funchal, close to Forte São Tiago. The Chapel was built in the 15th Century thanks to the fishermen’s devotion to the church. Even if you are not religious, this Chapel is one of oldest and most beautiful that Funchal has to offer.

Sé Cathedral

Right in the heart of the City on the main Avenida is the Cathedral. The 15th century Cathedral in Baroc architecture with its Manueline pulpit, is a must for all visitors to see. It is located by ‘gossips corner’, a square full of bars and restaurants where the locals and tourist alike stop for a light lunch or refreshments.


There are many small ‘centro comercial’ (small shopping centres) dotted around dotted around down town Funchal. They can be interesting places with a host of goodies to find from souvenirs, clothes, electrical items to the old fashioned hardware store.
Currently Funchal has two major modern shopping centres. The most popular is called Madeira Shopping which is located near Santo Antonio and is a short taxi or bus ride from the city centre. It has a cinema, a food mall (with many well known fast food chains) and several big brand name shops. The other and newest addition is Madeira Forum which, is more conveniently located in the Lido area of Funchal with many similar features as the other, however, the Forum is slightly different in design in that it has been built as an out door shopping centre, so not a very convenient place to spend a day when it’s raining!

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